AI News, Built for distance and speed, Tunabot can illuminate how fish move

Built for distance and speed, Tunabot can illuminate how fish move

In the open ocean, though, tuna can do both—as highly efficient swimmers, they're able to migrate thousands of miles across the Pacific from California to Japan, but when threatened or on the hunt, they're also among the fastest fish in the water, capable of reaching speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour.

But for scientists, like George Lauder, who hope to better understand how fish move by developing robots to model their underwater 'gait,' that flexibility has been maddeningly difficult to capture until now.

The Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor of Ichthyology, Lauder and a team of researchers from the University of Virginia developed 'Tunabot,' the first robotic tuna that can accurately mimic both the highly efficient swimming style of tuna and their high speed.

The challenge, Lauder said, was in designing a mechanism that could efficiently convert the rotation of a motor into the side-to-side flapping of a fish tail—and the solution proved to be surprisingly simple.

'We want something that's fish-like in performance so we can understand how the tail of a tuna fish works, so we can visualize the flow over the tail, and that's hard to do in a live tuna.'